Who was Fr. Olivier Maire, the Catholic priest murdered in France?

Fr. Olivier Maire, the Catholic priest murdered in France on Monday, was the local provincial superior of the Montfort Missionaries, a worldwide religious congregation founded by St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort.

He was killed in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, a commune in the Vendée department, western France. The town is home to the Basilica of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, where the founder is buried and where St. John Paul II preached in 1996.

The French bishops’ conference and the Conference of Religious of France said in a joint statement on Aug. 9 that the man suspected of killing the priest “was staying with Fr. Olivier Maire” at the time of the murder.

Media named the suspect as Emmanuel Abayisenga, a 40-year-old man of Rwandan origin who is also suspected of starting the fire at Nantes cathedral in July 2020.

Fr. Maire was born in Besançon, eastern France, in 1961, reported the French Catholic newspaper La Croix. He made his solemn profession with the Montfort Missionaries in 1986, at the age of 25, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990.

A biography on the website of the Diocese of Luçon, which comprises the department of Vendée, said: “Originally from the diocese of Besançon, he spent many years in Africa, then in Rome. This biblical scholar, passionate about the Church Fathers and Patristic Greek, also has a degree in psychology. For him, the writings of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, written 300 years ago, retain all their relevance for explaining and living the Faith.”

Fr. Maire, 61, was a popular leader of retreats.

One participant in a retreat that he led in 2011 wrote: “I appreciated his availability, his attentive listening to suggestions, but also the freedom with which he expressed his desires in different areas. Each Eucharist was an intense moment of prayer and thanksgiving.”

Another commented: “I lived a week of calm and renewal thanks to the beauty of the place, the quality of the moments of prayer, the depth and simplicity of Olivier Maire.”

In 2016, the priest was interviewed by the French Catholic television station KTO in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, in a broadcast marking the 300th anniversary of Montfort’s death in 1716.

On Oct. 11, 2020, Maire preached at a Mass marking the 300th anniversary of the arrival of Blessed Marie Louise of Jesus in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre. Together with Montfort, she founded the Daughters of Wisdom, a female religious congregation.

He said: “This is what Marie Louise could have said to everyone this morning: share your life. Live a life of sharing with others, don’t waste your life by living it alone, isolated, protected from the world, protected from others -- you have to protect yourself from the virus but not from others.”

“This symbiosis with the world in which we live, this world of exclusion as Pope Francis would say, this world of the periphery, is what Marie Louise experienced. Fraternal life, the pope’s last encyclical (Fratelli tutti) reminds us of this, living in symbiosis with the other, fraternal life and living in symbiosis with God himself.”

“Let us dare to sit down for a time of fraternal sharing, let us dare to sit down with the poorest, the excluded, and the rejects of humanity.”

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.